The Government has announced that the suspension of all possession claims in England and Wales has been extended for a further two months, until 23rd August.
In March all possession claims were to be suspended for a period of 3 months, until the end of June 2020, in order to ensure that no tenant in either social or private accommodation would be forced out of their home as a result of the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick stated “We have provided an unprecedented package of support for renters during this pandemic. I am announcing that the Government’s ban on evictions will be extended for another two months. That takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months.
“Eviction hearings will not be heard in courts until the end of August and no one will be evicted from their home this summer due to Coronavirus.
“We are also working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements, including rules, are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by Coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding.”
He also announced new court rules, which he said “will ensure vulnerable renters are protected when the suspension of evictions ends.”
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland added: “Protecting vulnerable people has been our priority throughout this pandemic. Extending this ban will give people invaluable security in these turbulent times and work continues at pace to ensure vulnerable renters remain protected long after the ban ends.”
Whilst this is positive news for tenants during what is already such a concerning period of time the decision means that some landlords will now be facing five months without receiving any rent as they can take no action against tenants who were not paying before the lockdown started. Not all landlords are large organisations, many depend on rental income as their main income or to top up a pension. There are also issues for communities having to suffer the behaviour of anti-social tenants.
Whist there are a large number of tenants facing difficulties due to no fault of their own because of unemployment or reduced income as a result of the coronavirus crisis, many landlords are, and have been, working with them throughout the crisis.
The Government has reiterated its advice from March that where tenants have experienced financial difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus, in this unique context landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options, for example putting in place a flexible rent payment scheme that is accountable to a tenant’s individual circumstances, in order to ensure that possession cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort.
There will be no gap between the existing ban and the further two-month extension which comes into force on 25th June.
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